Since its inauguration in 2003, with the support of Sir Sean Connery and Dr. Geoffrey Scott Carroll, the “From Scotland with Love” benefit (previously referred to as “Dressed To Kilt”) has grown into the premiere Scottish themed event in the city—perhaps the country—not that Scottish runway shows are commonplace. A kick-off for Tartan Week for over the years, notable Scots have donned their ancestral clan’s tartans and paraded down the catwalk to the taunts of many a drunken laddie and lass. Personalities such as Mike Myers, Sir Connery, rocker Joan Jett, Kyle MacLachlan, Kiefer Sutherland, Chris Noth, Andie MacDowell and Alan Cumming have graced the stage to raise funds for the charity.
For its 10th anniversary spectacle, “From Scotland with Love” benefited The Wounded Warrior Project, an organization that supports American soldiers returning home from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as Cash for Kids, which benefits children living in poverty across Glasgow and Scotland.
Our previous experiences at the affair had been marred by unfortunate run-ins with Real Housewives and clingy plus-ones, but this year promised something optimistic: The Observer would have a seat on the runway judging panel. We’re good at being critical— so we enthusiastically anticipated the opportunity. What’s more, with Ed Westwick and The B52’s Fred Schneider listed on the model roster, we were all but guaranteed an eventful show. To be honest though, our main goal was to get as cozy as possible with TV’s most magnificent talk show mess, Wendy Williams.
Call time last night was between 7.30p.m. and 8p.m., so we arrived promptly at the Liberty Theatre on West 42nd Street at 7.46pm. Well, it didn’t exactly go so smoothly. Having never heard of the Liberty Theatre and horrified at the possibility it could be nestled in the lobby of hell pit Dave & Busters,it took some time for us to come to our senses and notice the bagpipers welcoming attendees. Once safely past the screeching tourists and red carpet, The Observer sipped Scotch whisky, neat, as Wendy Williams stormed the steps Our mission began!
It was never exactly quite clear where each judge should sit (although chairs did have names on them). Anywhere in the roped-off orchestra area sufficed. The Observer tried to take a seat next to writer Cator Sparks: “This is for Wendy,” he said with a sympathetic pout. We took a free spot nearby.
“I am ecstatic to sit next to you!” exclaimed Mr. Sparks to a bewildered Wendy Williams after her attendants had finally escorted her to a front row seat. She paused, still in the fog.
“We met at [such and such] fashion show…” Mr. Sparks continued nonetheless.
Ms. Williams must have eventually made the connection, letting out a fierce cackle in response.
“Hi Nigel!” Ms. Williams shrieked across the runway to the handsome Nigel Barker, waving wildly.
Our emcees for the night, Peter Morris and Dr. Scott Carroll, finally took the stage and welcomed all, giving a lengthy thanks to the event’s major sponsors.
Before long, music was blaring and judges held up placards, voting on a scale from one to three for each look that traipsed by. Models came in all shapes and sizes. The statuesque Heloisa Alves (model/actress and former Miss Brazil) sashayed in a gown on the arm of the studly Jeff Garner. Paper Magazine’s Mickey Boardman graced the catwalk with rosy panache. Fred Schneider and Crossing Jordan’s Jill Hennesey took memorable strolls as well.
“She looks hungry!” marveled one guest at the svelte Miss Scotland Jennifer Reoch. Said guest looked pudgy…
Those keen on a little love from Ed Westwick went home empty handed—he was a no show. But Gossip Girls’ Kelly Rutherford and Matthew Settle danced with delight in a matching black kilt number.
The couture, like the models, ran the gamut with looks from Harris Tweed Authority, House of Holland, L.A.M.B., Ruffian, Vivienne Westwood and Alexander McQueen.
A personal highlight of the evening was the drowsy state of Huffington Post fashion and lifestyle reporter Melissa Berkelhammer. She ebbed and flowed out of consciousness long enough to give an eye roll at anyone who took to the catwalk. Even when the entire audience rose to its feet to applaud the “Wounded Warrior” models, Ms. Berkelhammer struggled to feign interest. It was a pitiful sight indeed, but we relished each jaded expression more than the next. Was it a lack of sleep? Snobbery? Sedatives? To be fair, the show did drag on.
“Glenn! Do you want anything more to drink? An IPA?” we asked the stylish Glenn O’Brien, tucking an empty Sixpoint Sweet Action can under his chair.
“Well, maybe—this is awfully long! Shouldn’t they be bringing drinks to us?” Mr. O’Brien questioned leaning back with a grin.
By the time The Observer had returned with a handful of Sierra Nevadas for our row mates, Mr. O’Brien was enjoying a glass of white.
Ultimately, Tom Gold, a principal dancer for the New York City Ballet was the icing on the cake. After a frenzy of pirouettes and Celtic kicks, he lunged in a final failli pose and yelled, “How you doin’?” right into the face of a giddy Wendy Williams. Those who heard the diva’s signature catch phrase roared with unrestrained laughter.
“Pretty damn well,” a fellow judge replied smugly. And it was true.